Current Issue - September/October 2020 - Vol 23 Issue 5


  1. 2020;23;E487-E496Computed Tomography–Guided Percutaneous Coblation of the Thoracic Nerve Root for Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia
    Prospective Evaluation
    Chao Luo, MD, Bei Yang, MD, Li-Qiang Yang, MD, Bai-Shan Wu, MD, Xiao-Ping Wang, MD, Liang-Liang He, MD, Rui Zhao, MD, Jia-Xiang Ni, MD, and Yuan-zhang Tang, MD.

BACKGROUND: Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is one of the most intractable pain disorders and often does not respond to medication, physical, and interventional procedures. Coblation technology has been demonstrated to have potential for neuralgia, but there are rare reports of the efficacy and security of coblation for PHN. The thoracic segment is the most common predilection part of PHN, so we conducted this long-term study to investigate the results of coblation for the treatment  of thoracic PHN.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy and security of computed tomography (CT)-guided coblation of the thoracic nerve root for treatment of PHN.

STUDY DESIGN: Self before-after controlled clinical assessment.

SETTING: Department of Pain Management, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University.

METHODS: Seventy-seven patients with thoracic PHN sustained for at least 6 months and refractory to conservative therapy were identified. Patients underwent CT-guided percutaneous coblation to ablate the thoracic nerve root for thoracic PHN. The therapeutic effects were evaluated using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS), medication doses, and pain-related quality of life (QoL) scale before coblation, and at 1 week, and at 1, 3, and 6 months after the procedure. Patients who achieved more than 50% pain relief were defined as responders. In addition, adverse effects were also recorded to investigate the security of this procedure.

RESULTS: The VAS score significantly decreased from 7.22 ± 1.15 before the coblation to 3.51 ± 1.12 (P = 0.01), 3.02 ± 1.21 (P = 0.006), 3.11 ± 2.15 (P = 0.014), and 2.98 ± 2.35 (P = 0.008) at 1 week, and at 1, 3, and 6 months after the procedure, respectively. The number of responders were 56 (77.78%), 54 (75%), 55 (76.39%), and 54 (75%) at 1 week, and at 1, 3, and 6 months after the procedure, respectively. The doses of anticonvulsants and analgesics were decreased significantly at all time points after the procedure compared with before treatment (P < 0.05). Patient responses on the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form indicated mean scores that were significantly lower than baseline across all domains of pain interference with QoL at all evaluations (P = 0.001). Most of the patients had mild numbness and it did not affect the daily activities after the procedure. No other severe adverse events occurred during or after the procedure.

LIMITATIONS: A single-center study, relatively small number of patients, short duration of review of medical record, and the retrospective study.  

CONCLUSIONS: CT-guided percutaneous thoracic nerve root coblation is an effective and safe method for the treatment of thoracic PHN, and the procedure can also significantly improve the QoL in patients with PHN.

KEY WORDS: Neuropathic pain, quality of life, radiofrequency ablation, plasma-mediated technology, numbness